TAMPA, Fla. – As gas prices rise and the job market sputters, thousands of local families are unable to put food on the table. During the past three years, The Salvation Army has experienced a significant increase in requests for food and emergency assistance as donations continue to drop.

To help combat these challenges, Tampa-based Craft Equipment Company will match all monetary gifts made to The Salvation Army’s Tampa Food Pantry during the months of March and April 2011, up to a total of $25,000.

“Jobs are still hard to find, and more and more people are struggling to make ends meet. The Salvation Army works around the clock to provide a safe place for these men, women and children to stay – and food for them to eat – while they work to regain their independence,” said Don Mays, president of Craft Equipment and member of the Tampa Salvation Army Advisory Board.

The Salvation Army is one of the largest providers of services to the homeless in Hillsborough County, and the organization is seeking donations to help house, feed and provide assistance to the growing number of homeless men, women and children.

“For years, I have seen first-hand the work done by The Salvation Army to meet the needs of the hungry and homeless, and, in my opinion, no organization is more committed to alleviating these struggles in our community,” added Mays. “We hope this matching gift will inspire others in the community to help these families through The Salvation Army.”

To participate, send a check or money order to: The Salvation Army “Food Pantry Match,” P.O. Box 2839, Tampa, FL 33601, or email Moira Hinson, director of development & community relations, at moira.hinson@uss.salvationarmy.org. All donations are tax deductible. To qualify for the match, gifts should be mailed no later than April 30.

“We are facing one of the toughest years yet, and this gift by Craft Equipment, and those it inspires, will help us serve the growing number of homeless families in Hillsborough County,” said Major Dan Heard, Tampa Area Commander. “It would be impossible for us to operate our food pantry and housing programs without the support of our community. Every day, our donors enable us to provide shelter and food to more than 200 homeless men, women and children.”

Established in 1971, Craft Equipment has evolved into the leader of the Material Handling and Waste Reduction Industries in the Southeast.  For 40 years, Craft Equipment’s commitment to customer service and “whatever it takes” attitude has meant reliable installation, service and repair results for the region’s largest retailers, general contractors, municipalities and manufacturers. Their 24/7 Service response, combined with factory certified technicians and fully equipped service vehicles, allows them to meet their customers’ needs.

Since 1893, The Salvation Army Tampa Area Command has provided food, shelter, long-term transitional housing programs, counseling and emergency assistance to those in need. Programs are designed to help struggling men, women and children overcome challenges to regain their self-sufficiency. The Salvation Army actively provides social service and spiritual assistance to the needy in 123 countries, and has been recognized as one of the world’s most efficient charities by Forbes Magazine, The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm, among others.

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